Doha, 13 April 2021 (QT)
By Ashraf Siddiqui
Sri Lankan minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal, who is heading a six-member delegation to Qatar and Oman as part of his government’s Middle East outreach, has identified shipping, tourism, food security, investments, logistics and Islamic banking as potential areas in which Sri Lanka and Qatar can further deepen their relations.
Sri Lanka is keen to boost bilateral relations with Qatar, the State Minister for Ministry of Money, Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms of Sri Lanka, has
Cabraal, who has served as Governor of the State Bank of Sri Lanka for nine years between 2006 and 2014, said he had visited Qatar several times previously and is impressed by the fast pace of development related to the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Qatar and Sri Lanka are time-tested friends and have stood by each other in times of crises such as the COVID-19 outbreak and the blockade of Qatar by some of
its neighbours, he said.
Sri Lankan manpower has been playing a significant role in the development of infrastructure in Qatar, he pointed out. “It is time we look towards enhancing our bilateral relations on other levels,” he said, adding that the next five years will see the two countries fostering economic ties in various sectors.
He said his meetings with Qatar’s minister of finance, deputy governor of Qatar Central Bank, Group CEO of Qatar Airways and CEO of Doha Bank have been “extremely fruitful”. We charter certain paths for our future action, which will be useful for both the sides,” he said.
Cabraal said although the pandemic has impacted Sri Lanka’s tourism and aviation sectors, like in other countries, its other sectors such as agriculture, services and industries have performed well. “We believe we are on right track. In tourism, we will have fast growth. It adds 10 percent towards the GDP. The first two quarters of last year were severely hit but we are expecting to bounce back to 5.5 percent growth by end of this year.”
He said Sri Lanka, like Qatar, was attaching top priority to vaccination in combatting COVID-19. Around one million nationals have already been vaccinated, he
noted, adding that six millions doses have been ordered from Russia, China and India, which will help vaccinate half the population by end of June this year.
“This strategy will help build confidence among tourists and revive Sri Lanka’s tourism sector.”